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China Passes New Anti-Tobacco Law

March 29, 2011 - China has imposed a national ban on smoking cigarettes up in hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and other indoor public spaces which will take effect May 1. The world’s largest tobacco producer and consumer, China is home to 300 million smokers. About a third of Chinese adults smoke, including almost half of all male doctors. The restrictions were prompted by the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which China ratified in 2005.

But the regulations have considerable loopholes, failing to cover factories, offices or government workplaces and lacking specific guidelines for enforcement. That has prompted shrugs among devoted smokers, many of whom have learned to ignore no-smoking signs in hospital waiting areas, gymnasium locker rooms and lifts. People commonly light up in hospital waiting rooms, video game arcades and even on domestic flights, despite set of regulations from 1991 that prohibit smoking in such places.

’‘Chinese people, including most government officials, are just too in love with their cigarettes to pay attention to such a law,’‘ said Liu Bailing, a 28-year-old bank employee who was dining beneath a cloud of smoke at a restaurant.

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